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Old Garchonians Football Club rising through the leagues and ensuring fitting legacy for the memory of a friend
"It's weird. Obviously you're not thinking about him every time you go to training or every time you play a match.
"But there are moments, and I've had them, when I'm on the pitch and you're losing, or whatever it is, and you look down at your badge or you see the badge on somebody else's shirt.
"And it hits you again that there's the reason - Freddie is why we're doing this."
Freddie Garcha, a 22-year-old from Muswell Hill, was shot dead in Colombia in March 2011.
His friends at home decided to form a football club in his memory and three years on, Old Garchonians FC is soaring.
Southgate's Tom Lytton-Dickie, 25, was one of the Enfield club's founding members in 2011 along with close friends Daniel Emmerson, 25, from Highgate, and Luke Tripp, 24, from Muswell Hill.
The trio, who had known Freddie since their early teenage years, have since seen OG's swell with the help of a dedicated committee, four fully-competitive teams and 90-odd members made up of former schoolboys from Dame Alice Owen's, Alexandra Park and Fortismere.
Initially granted permission to enter a side in two cup tournaments, OG's won both - the ASA Intermediate Cup and the Middlesex and Essex Cup - while enough players were coming to training to field three teams, let alone one.
Impressed by their performances and captivated by their story, the Southern Amateur League accepted the club into its ranks at the start of the 2012/13 season.
The first team, who play their home games at Botany Bay in Enfield, sealed promotion from Division Three, are now top of Division Two and in the current campaign, the club's four sides have lost just once in more than 50 games between them.
But despite OG's roaring success on the field, it is Freddie - his character and his take on life - that remains to the fore.
The team badge pictures his face in sunglasses and the club motto 'Siempre Sera Amado', Forever In Our Hearts, rings beneath.
"Freddie was the type of person who was at the centre of everything," Lytton-Dickie says.
"He wasn't too fussed about who his mates were as long as they were fun-loving like he was.
"He was an adventurous person - that's what took him to South America before what happened happened - and we wanted to carry that ethos into the club.
"We've opened it up to anyone who wants to be part of it. Half of the people who turn up to training now I didn't even know before the club started, which is amazing."
Freddie was a football fanatic; an Arsenal fan and a centre half - strong in the air and fierce in the tackle.
His dad, Buddy Garcha, watches every OG's match and regularly tells players how the club has been one of the main things that keeps him going.
When the team reached the cup final in its first season, more than 200 people, including Freddie's family, were there cheering from the sidelines.
"We were playing with Freddie's face on our badge and it really was a community club with all the enthusiasm and passion on show that day," Lytton-Dickie recalls.
"Anyone who came down, whether they knew Freddie or not, was sucked into the sense of enthusiasm and that has been a large part of the success we've had."
While in the short-term the club wants to climb the leagues as far as possible, in the long-term, OG's hopes to forge stronger links with the North London community.
There are plans to build relationships with local schools, to set up a youth team and to launch an Old Garchonians Foundation, aimed at helping disadvantaged children find satisfaction and enjoyment from football.
The club, currently supported solely by its playing members, are hoping extra sponsorship will help them establish a home ground, a clubhouse and a regular source of revenue.
It all amounts to an ambitious vision for the future but one of which Freddie, with his sense of adventure, would surely approve.
"I think he'd be proud, I'd like to think so anyway," Lytton-Dickie says.
"Freddie fiercely hated losing so I'm sure he'd be pretty pleased with our performances.
"But I think he'd like the camaraderie of it too, the fact we've brought together so many different people and friendship groups in his memory.
"I'm pretty sure he'd be proud of that."
- Old Garchonians are searching for the Division Three trophy which they won last season and are offering a £250 reward if it is found. Replacing the cup will cost £2,500, which could seriously threaten the club's existence. The 86-year-old prize was mislaid at an awards night held at the Old Dairy pub in Crouch End. If anyone has any information regarding the trophy, call Tom Lytton-Dickie on 07735 491 607 or email him at email@example.com.
Follow @tomallnutt_Wat on Twitter.
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